Dec 6, 2010

Hekia Parata

There has been a fair bit of speculation surrounding the appointment of a new Cabinet Minister to replace Pansy Wong. Much of that speculation has surrounded Hekia Parata. Hekia grew up on the East Coast immersed in Ngati Porou tikanga, kawa and reo. She is of Ngati Porou and Ngai Tahu descent. She has led a very successful life as a senior public servant, small business owner and now politician. Not bad eh?

Personally Hekia turns me off; she comes across as rather arrogant and showed on the Q+A debate during the Mana by-election that she can be very rude and obstructive. However, she is immensely proud of her identity and is absolutely committed to Maori and the Mana electorate and I admire this. You cannot fault her on that count.

I have read over her maiden speech to try and gain a better picture of Hekia. The speech is largely promising and shows some insight and perception;

“I have grown up in a culture that walks through the present, with the constant companions of the past and the future; this practice prepares us particularly well for this parliamentary role I think – as we weigh actions of today against those of the past, and the implications for the future”

Kia ora;

“I have seen the very kinds of communities of my upbringing succumb to the disease of dependency where State intervention is the norm not the exception; where care givers, and providers, and facilitators, and sector workers replace aunts, uncles, neighbours and friends; where State welfare (rather than social welfare) is the first resort and the basis of an intergenerational life sentence rather than a lifeline; where despair and alienation are masked by drugs and alcohol and abuse; and displaced anger makes victims of children and their mothers; where low expectation in schools is predictably repaid with low achievement; where fault and blame laying has become the defence of failure… I feel called to Parliament to do something about this.”

She has identified the problems but, judging from the tone of this, I suspect her understanding of the underlying causes and her solutions are hori tory stuff. Please prove me wrong;

“We have slogged through the mire of compliance regimes and related costs. We have encountered the impervious official at the point of export, indifferent to the effects of inexplicable bureaucracy and the costs incurred”

This is where she begins to lose herself;

“We must liberate businesses”

“Restore whänau and families as the cornerstones of our communities and our country, and mediate the role of the State through community based organizations, and through connected and coordinated support”

Shes back on track this is good stuff.  Does it sound a lot like Whanau Ora?

All in all it was an articulate address and a promising one at that and I certainly hope she is promoted.

(Unfortunately at the end of her speech she quotes Margaret Thatcher – It sent a chill down my spine)

UPDATE: Hekia takes over Women's Affairs as well as Ethnic Affairs. Excellent.

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